The global spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) is an understandable cause of concern. We’re acting quickly to ensure that our staff and customers are protected and that we can continue business as usual as much as possible.
This page provides answers to questions that we anticipate our Centres, Assessors and External Quality Assurers will have. Please check this page regularly as we will be updating it with the latest information. New questions will be marked NEW
Last Updated: 27.03.2020
Is Training Qualifications UK (TQUK) still open for business?
Yes, it’s business as usual here at TQUK. We’re following government advice closely and will be acting in accordance with it.
What measures is TQUK taking to deal with the outbreak?
We have set up an internal team to discuss our actions on the matter. This team is made up of all Heads of departments, managers and team leaders, alongside our Managing Director Andrew Walker. Meetings are held every day and the latest advice from the government, and our response to it, is discussed.
All current advice is being strictly adhered to. We have promoted the importance of good hand hygiene to our staff, implemented daily office cleans and are asking staff to work from home where possible. Moreover, we are adding extra checks for any staff who are due to visit Apprentices, Employers and Centres.
END-POINT ASSESSMENT QUESTIONS
What is TQUK doing as part of the wider Awarding Organisation/End-Point Assessment Organisation sector?
We continue to work very closely with other EPAOs, FAB and AELP to contribute to central communications and IfATE. This has included a central list of potential “assessment dispensations”. We are now actively working with other EPAOs and External Quality Assurance Providers to look at how alterations can be made to enable as many assessments as possible to still continue to take place during this period affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
What is Training Qualifications UK’s position on remote assessment?
We are strong advocates of remote assessment and for a large number of our Standards, the End-Point Assessment can be conducted completely remotely.
What is TQUK’s stance on on-site assessment during the coronavirus outbreak?
At such time we are following government advice regarding social distancing to support the efforts to control the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This currently means that we are not conducting any on-site assessments. However we are still very much active in delivering assessments where remote delivery can be appropriately applied, even if we have to postpone on-site assessments for a period of time. Providers should contact us to discuss where they believe this may be an option.
NEW: What happens if an Apprentice’s contract is due to expire before they have chance to take their EPA?
The ESFA guidance states that the Training Provider and/or Employer are responsible for the extending of an Apprentice’s contract or finding them new employment. In extenuating circumstances, the ESFA will provide practical support in securing alternative employment for apprentices.
HAIR PRO AND STANDARD-SPECIFIC QUESTIONS
Are you still conducting assessments for Apprentices on the Hair Professional standard?
Unfortunately will not currently be conducting any onsite End-Point Assessments for the Hair Professional Apprenticeship standard. Given the nature of the assessment we feel unable to conduct the required assessment safely, in line with the current government advice linked to social distancing as a result of the COVID- 19 pandemic. At this time we are working closely with the Institute for Apprenticeship and Technical Education and are in regular contact with other End-Point Assessment Organisations to continue to monitor the situation and collectively act upon government advice. We commit to providing a further update on this as known.
The standard my Apprentice is on includes a Practical Observation as part of the End-Point Assessment. Can this assessment still take place?
At present we are following government guidelines and as such we are not conducting any on-site assessments. Currently the guidance from the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education is that where minor alterations to assessments cannot be made to assessments to enable them to continue safely we should seek to postpone. We are however continuing to work closely with External Quality Assurance Providers to suggest and seek approval for potential such minor dispensations that could be applied to a small few standards that include a form of observation based assessment. We aim to provide an update on this once known. For now we advise providers to engage with us to discuss any possible options and continue to schedule wider assessments to enable partial EPA completion.
My Apprentices and their Employers have previously selected their assessment preferences as Face to Face. Is it possible to change these now to remote where it is not possible for onsite assessments to take place?
Absolutely yes! At this time we are only conducting remote assessments in line with government guidelines. It is likely that should we receive a gateway request for Face to Face assessments during this period our team will be in contact to discuss offering a remote option where applicable. this unfortunately may not be extended to include practical observations at such time.
NEW: I have an Apprentice who is nearing Gateway. They are still active in their job role and remain working from their usual place of employment. Are assessments still able to take place?
We are being as proactive as we can to support assessments to still take place. At present our primary method of assessment deliver is via remote options. Remote assessments brings the added benefit that they can be delivered from a diverse range of locations. Please see our Controlled Environment Guidance to help verify requirements. We are, at such time, in line with government guidelines unable to conduct an on-site assessments.
The assessment plan requires the Apprentice’s employer to be present during their professional discussion. However due to current workplace closure the Employer is not able to be present. Will this prevent the assessment taking place?
No. We will work with the Apprentice to progress with this assessment. Typically the role of the employer is to be a silent observer, providing clarification for the assessor as required. As such, and due to the role not being involved with forming an assessment decision, we are able to mitigate this in order to support the Apprentice and give them the opportunity to complete the assessment as long as the Apprentice gives consent for this approach.
NEW: I have an Apprentice who is nearing Gateway, but they are now working from home. Are assessments still able to take place?
We are being as proactive as we can to support assessments to still take place. At present our primary method of assessment deliver is via remote options. Remote assessments brings the added benefit hat it can be delivered from a diverse range of locations. Please see our Controlled Environment Guidance to help verify requirements. We are at such time, in line with government guidelines unable to conduct an on-site assessments.
What happens if my Apprentice progresses through Gateway but their workplace is closed due to the current health situation before all of their assessments are complete?
We continue to work quickly to allocate appropriate End Point Assessors to Apprentices within 48 hours of them progressing through Gateway. As required, our Assessors can work with Apprentices and employers to schedule assessments to support their timely completion. Should the situation evolve and the unfortunate outcome does mean that the Apprentice is no longer in work, we will work with the Apprentice to complete assessments remotely, where possible, to support them in achieving their apprenticeship.
NEW: Are we able to undertake the Gateway meeting remotely?
Yes no problem at all! As we still require sign off we are able to accept electronic signatures where possible, scanned documents or email declarations alongside the completed record form.
NEW: Is there any relaxation in relation to any of the mandatory qualification requirements to enable an Apprentice to progress through gateway to undertake their end-point assessment?
Unfortunately not at this time. IfATE have confirmed that in order for the apprenticeship programme to be complete and valid all outline mandatory qualifications including Functional Skills must have been successfully achieved in line with the individual assessment plan.
NEW: Where another Awarding Organisation is not able to print certificates, can you accept other forms of evidence to enable an apprentice to be submitted at Gateway?
Yes – there is no change from our usual practice here. We already have a range of approved evidence types we can accept such as exam result slips etc. Please contact us directly to discuss this as required.
NEW: If it may not be possible for all included assessments to be completed should I still progress the apprentice through Gateway?
Yes, wherever possible EPA should operate as business as usual and Apprentices should be progressed through Gateway. We are doing our best to enable as many assessments to still take place. A 12 week extension can be applied to EPA to enable those assessments which for safety cannot currently be conducted be postponed.
BREAK IN LEARNING QUESTIONS
NEW: What is the maximum delay in learning allowed during the End-Point Assessment stage?
Apprentices that are ready for Gateway should be progressed through this stage. Where their assessments are not fully able to take place as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak then a break in learning, as per the EFSA guidance, can be applied, giving an extension of up to 12 weeks.
NEW: Is an Apprentice allowed to have more than one break in learning during their EPA?
The maximum break is 12 weeks. To support individual circumstances this couple be applied in smaller breaks as long as it does not exceed the 12 week extension.
NEW: How do I record breaks in learning?
All breaks in learning longer than four weeks post-Gateway or during the EPA period, where up to 12 week extension can be applied, must be recorded by the Training Provider on the ILR. We will internally record all pauses/extensions to EPA for an Apprentice and inform the relevant External Quality Assurance Provider.
NEW: What happens where a 12-week extension will not be sufficient to enable a viable assessment opportunity for an Apprentice?
At present we are following given guidance that supports 12-week extensions. Both IfATE and ESFA are monitoring the situation closely and will provide further guidance as required. Where business operations are able to resume during this period, but workloads are still not sufficient to enable fair assessment opportunities, please discuss with us as we can seek to apply for individual extensions as required. All such extensions will be reviewed on an individual basis by the relevant External Quality Assurance Providers
NEW: What happens if an Apprentice completes one or more of their assessments but is then unable to complete the remaining one(s)?
We are working to support as many assessments to still take place as possible. Where it is not practicable or safe to complete an assessment we may need to pause and postpone assessments. In these instances a break in learning may be required. A break in learning can be applied at any point with a maximum 12 week extension added to any EPA period.
What if my challenge is not listed on this list of Frequently Asked Questions?
Whilst we are doing our best to keep this list updated, we appreciate it will not cover all eventualities. Please call the office on 03333 583 344 so that we can provide you with tailored support to meet your need. Our aim is to keep assessments running wherever possible!
If you would like to view the full FAQ with Awarding questions answered as well, please visit our Awarding website here.